My Happiness & Love Project

happinessprojectbadgeInspired by Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project blog, I decided to make my own Happiness Project and try to keep up with the Happiness Challenges.

JsLoveProjectAfter new years, I read Judy Clement Wall’s post. I completely agree with her when she says “I believe love should be our default position.”

I loved the idea of making this into a project. I’m feeling more accountable and so much more happy since I’ve decided to start consciously following J’s Love Project.

By posting about them right here on my blog (where all I am is) as a separate page, I hope to inspire others to take on a project like these of their own.

J’s Love Project – A year of loving fearlessly

Jan: A month of spontaneous connection (like the act that started it all)
Feb : A month of hugs
Mar: A month of giving what you need
Apr: A month of capturing love (in photographs)
May: A month of self-love
Jun: A month of graffiti (displays left for others to find)
Jul: A month of (heartfelt, absolutely true, one-of-a-kind) compliments
Aug: A month of grand gestures
Sep: A month of seeing
Oct: A month of love letters
Nov: A month of gifts
Dec: A month of volunteering


J’s Love Project Manifesto



Personal Commandments

– Identify principles to guide your life

  • Be Estrella
  • Dare to dream and dare to live
  • Be flexible, be willing to compromise and make course corrections
  • Be determined and diligent -> stay positive and maintain optimism as much as I can
  • Listen carefully so I can learn something new as often as I have the chance to
  • Know my weaknesses -> embrace them, and learn how to overcome them
  • Enjoy Life more -> decide to ‘Go For It’ when I have a good opportunity, and remember to have fun and enjoy the journey
  • Be grateful for all I have and all I am -> ‘give back’ with kindness and charity, help others
  • Accept that Life is messy -> that I need to make messes in order to find out who I am and why I’m here
  • Notice the little things
  • Be creative, improvise, work with what I have and sometimes, if I’m really lucky, what I’ll have will turn out to be exactly what I need
  • Know that it’s okay to follow someone else’s lead from time to time
  • Leap (and the net will appear!)


– Commit to concrete, measurable actions

  • Read more
  • Write 500 words a day – Even if i don’t keep my blog posting schedule
  • Eliminate toxins from my life and body
  • Keep in touch
  • Prepare plaster castings ahead of time to have less trouble on a busy day


– Keep any kind of list


Life’s a stage – WebBlog Posting schedule:

  • Mondays – post of tips, something homemade with instructions/recipe on how you can make it yourself (twice a month)
  • Wednesdays – random topic post
  • Fridays – new piece of fiction (or poem) for #fridayflash; something writing-related (as many times as possible per month)
  • Sundays – Recipe of the month (once a month)
  • Throughout the week whenever I have some additional interesting topic to write about, you’ll find those too aside from the scheduled stuff :P


 Ten things I believe

(December 12th, 2010)

  1. Putting myself first isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. (Need more time to believe this 100% but I’m glad to be closer to it than I was at the beginning of the year.)
  2. It’s okay to follow someone else’s lead from time to time.
  3. Everything that goes wrong can go right too.
  4. Outer order contributes to inner calm.
  5. Leap and the net will appear.
  6. Change is good, even when it’s the hardest thing you can possibly do.
  7. The only way out is through.
  8. Life is messy – however, we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we’re here.
  9. We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.
  10. Reality is unforgivingly complex.

Estrella Azul’s – One little word (and more) for 2011

In 2011 I choose to hope, dare, live, smile, dream, love, create, appreciate, listen, leap, enjoy.

Somehow choose was the exact word I needed, without my even knowing it. Because thinking about it, every day, every week, every year (and by extension – Life) can be broken down into a series of choices.

I will make many choices this year!

However, I’ll keep in mind that sometimes, when it’s least expected, it works the other way around too:
words, characters, books, songs, places, objects, people, feelings, dreams, happenings… Life – will choose me.


3 lessons I’m forever relearning are:

1. putting myself first isn’t selfish, it’s necessary (though I still feel selfish about it 99% of the time)

2. everything that goes wrong can go right too (I need to remember not to lose hope)

3. following someone else’s lead isn’t that bad (trying to always be in control of everything is tiring and sometimes useless)


I know I’m tired when I:

  • answer my personal cell while at home with the line “Hello, flower shop X this is Estrella speaking, how may I help you?”
  • measure a cup of plaster and instead of pouring it into the mixing bowl, I fill up the water cup with it
  • search for the tea kettle in the bedroom, kitchen and pantry for a good 15 minutes before looking for it in the sink, which I passed at least 10 times during the big search
  • read worms (râme) instead of frames (rame) on an ad board
  • turn on the playlist, place my cell phone in my inner coat pocket, zip up, put the headphones on – and then start frantically looking for my cell


Note to self

Sometimes I do things I may later wish to kick myself for, but which turn out funny enough to share. So here goes, a few notes to myself you can take a peek at –>

  • The result of adding: bookshelf + mom’s “help” + my toe = sooo not a good idea! I’m perfectly capable of injuring myself on my own, so don’t ask my mother for help again! Ever! EVER!
  • Disregard inner clock while reading at night (or I might just end up going to bed after 3 AM every morning).
  • Making the cat swallow her medicine is so much easier at the vet – she isn’t too scared to move (nor bite, nor scratch, etc.) at home!
  • Just because the crosswalk light is green it doesn’t mean that guy in the tuned up car making half the city listen to his music also got the memo.
  • Having glasses does not equal with seeing in the dark. On the contrary…
  • Think again before trying to slide into bed with the laptop, a plate-full of cake and a cup of hot tea.
  • Brush off thoughts of entering the super market for one can of corn five minutes before closing. Lines will move slower than a snail – the cashiers actually do want to sleep there!


Multiple firsts in less than a week (Trip to Sicily, November 24th – December 1st, 2010)

  • airplane flight
  • had my cough candy stolen
  • cloudscapes from above
  • Sicily, Italy
  • Thanksgiving dinner
  • eating a lot of different kinds of food I’ve never had before
  • being mistaken for an American girl (almost on a daily basis)
  • seeing/hearing/touching the ocean and beach
  • writing drafts elsewhere than my usual writing places
  • eating semi successfully with chopsticks (Vietnamese dinner)
  • furthest I’ve ever traveled from home
  • being stalked in a foreign country
  • the longest time speaking in English
  • walk around an exotic orchard (at night)
  • slightly burning my hand while baking an apple sheet cake
  • smashing flying a toy helicopter
  • visiting a catacomb (and remaining speechless)
  • learning how to drive, in a BMW, at night, at 200 kph, with my eyes closed! (okay, just kidding about the last parts … or not ;) )


Today I’m grateful for (October 7th, 2010)

  • feelings which don’t get lost and don’t fade, but only grow and deepen over time, amazing me more than I ever thought they would
  • lots of great books that I’ve found in regular and antique bookshops
  • the arrival of two amazing friends who will be staying in Kolozsvár until May next year *happy dance* (plus I get to actually have conversations in English, not only write and tutor!)
  • the love I can feel around me, and from afar, every day
  • natural cold remedies which work so well that I’m now able to sit here and type this list
  • getting crafts right from the first try
  • the possibility to blog at all




Secrets of Adulthood

– Remind yourself what you’ve learned

  • You really can be anything you want to be if you set your mind to it and don’t give up!
  • If you do things for yourself and not for anyone else you won’t be disappointed by any lack of appreciation.
  • I’ll make and reaffirm my life choices whenever needed; when I walk on a different path or make my own path, when I feel lost or confused, when I’m in need of a change, when I want to experiment and when I make mistakes… Some of these happen often enough that I have a New Year almost monthly.
  • At the same time of clearing all the clutter my room once held, I somehow managed to clear my mind.
    Although emotional crap isn’t as easy to let go of, nor to overcome in just one weekend, and while I know this is far from over – as I let go of many things I’ve collected over the years, I could more easily let go of the clutter I had going on in my mind as well.
    I “took pictures”, then I threw them all out…
  • It’s odd when you think about it: written, spoken, thought of – everything is just a string of words which sometimes matter and sometimes don’t; to many people, a few people or no one.
  • “Love is over-thinking for the millionth time what you want to say, rephrasing, cutting and pasting, editing until you’re out of rational thoughts – then not having to say any of it aloud because he/she can feel every single one of your unspoken words.”
  • Breaking the right set of rules which don’t work for us sets us free to do something we love.

Happiness Hacks

– Share tips about how to boost happiness

On: Clutter

Outer order contributes to inner calm – It’s interesting what the mind can hold on to and process for a long time, isn’t it?
Just like friends of mine say, I also like to clean when my life is in disarray.
It gives you a concrete thing to focus on, most people feel so much better in a clean space anyway and most importantly: as you let go of things you’ve collected over the years and which you most certainly won’t need ever again, you can let go of the clutter you have going on in your mind as well.
I think letting go, both physically and metaphorically, is the best way to start a new chapter!

On: Creativity & writing

Crafting can be very relaxing and boosts your happiness when in the end you have a nice product of your creativity to show off :) Same goes for writing!

“If you don’t feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then probably what you are doing isn’t very vital.  If you don’t feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it?  If you don’t have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough.” ~ John Irving

I write because there’s nothing else to better keep me on the right track of sanity – or prove the lack thereof all at once ;)

At some point you just have to hit ‘publish’  and share another little piece of you with the world. It’s worth it!

On: Mood boosters

I strongly believe the small things that generally go unnoticed in our lives are the ones that genuinely keep us happy.

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” ~ Anne Lamott

“Above all else…Love gives many chances. It only asks for courage to neither run from someone nor to someone, including oneself, in the stillness where you meet yourself just as you are.” ~ Annie Q Syed

I like the prospect of tomorrow being a new day.

Tomorrow is always a new day with no mistakes in it yet.
It always offers a chance to turn the page on yesterday,
even on last year, and its old ways.

Not expecting anything in return while giving what you need is tricky to say the least. But when we shift on the expectations management button and are patient enough – we do get back what we need even if not in the exact form or from who we would’ve thought.

If I had a life professor…

… She’d tell me that I’m nice enough and funny enough, and I can have a pretty good life being nice and funny.

” But every now and then you go beyond nice and funny,” she’d say. “You leap when you can’t see your landing, give your heart when you fear it might get broken, write words that scare you and then show them to people who might reject you. You risk, and, lo and behold, you land. You love. You tell your story and are understood… You live a little magic.”


Inspiration Board

– Pull together things that inspire you (Image, quotation, book, web site inspirations, etc.)

Inspiring Quotes:

” When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~ Helen Keller

” It’s not always the gifts that are wrapped
which are the best,
but simply those that are shared.
Gifts of time, love, and laughter…
Happy memories that warm the heart
at Christmas time and always.”

 And the truth is that this lovely thing happens all the time. Life makes unexpected demands and we respond. We improvise. We work with what we have, and when we’re lucky, what we have turns out to be just what we need.” ~ Judy Clement Wall

‎” What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here – and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.” ~ Anne Lamott

” Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, how alive am I willing to be?” ~ Anne Lamott

” Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself.” ~ Julia Cameron

” Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.” ~ Alan Alda


Carolyn Rubenstein’s – The Manifesto of Kindness

Kindness is simple yet complicated, modest yet loud, soft yet strong, ordinary yet extraordinary.

… It is the handwritten thank-you note you receive anonymously from someone you’ve never met but helped in some way.

… It is the email you send to an overwhelmed friend with a short note of encouragement and a note to read the email, smile, and hit delete without responding.

… It is the comment you receive on a blog post that lets you know that your voice is being heard and that what you’re saying means something to others.

… It is what you do without acknowledgment or praise, done simply to give without the expectation of receiving.

… It is the courage to give to yourself what you can’t give to others (and wish you could).

… It is the voice that whispers deep into your heart, “You are amazing.” You listen, feel its message, and believe wholeheartedly that you are amazing simply because your heart says so.

… It is the willingness to give to others and sacrifice what you give to yourself when you know that it’s what you are called to do.

… It is the courage to face your fears with your eyes wide open in order to create change for yourself and for others.

… It is the guilt you battle when you make yourself a priority and your kindness is questioned by yourself and others.

… It is the voice that says, “You don’t have to know everything; you are worthy of this journey.”

… It is the ability to nurture ourselves and our vulnerabilities with authentic and wholehearted kindness.

… It is the strength it takes to publicly proclaim, “I am kind!”

The kindness you read about in books or see on television matters, but the most important kindness is often overlooked – the ordinary sparkling kindness we nurture for ourselves and share with others.

Give kindness to yourself. Share kindness with others. Create a beautiful ripple effect of kindness.


Gretchen Rubin’s – A Happiness Manifesto:

To be happy, you need to consider feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

The days are long, but the years are short.

You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.

Your body matters.

Happiness is other people.

Think about yourself so you can forget yourself.

“It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.”—G. K. Chesterton

What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you, and vice versa.

Best is good, better is best.

Outer order contributes to inner calm.

Happiness comes not from having more, not from having less, but from wanting what you have.

You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.

“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.” —Robert Louis Stevenson

You manage what you measure.


Gretchen Rubin’s – The 2010 Happiness Challenge:






Get more sleep – The days are long, but the years are short.

Exercise – Your body matters.

Toss and organize – Outer order contributes to inner calm.

Tackle a nagging task – Happy people make people happy.


Give proofs of love – What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.

Fight right – Happiness is other people.

Don’t expect praise or appreciation – You can only change yourself, but if you change yourself a relationship will also change.

Kiss more, hug more, touch more – Loving actions inspire loving feelings.


Aim higher – You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.

Enjoy the fun of failure – Everything worth doing is worth doing badly.

Ask for help – When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Beware of drift – The admiration of the people that we love is sweet, but it’s not enough to build the foundation of a happy life.


Buy some happiness – Some of the best things in life aren’t free.

Beware of the gym-membership effect – Buying something isn’t the same as doing something.

Ask yourself: Are you an under-buyer or an over-buyer? – “No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.” Samuel Johnson

Spend out – “When one loves, one does not calculate.” St. Thérése de Lisieux


Take a mindfulness quiz – If you’re not now here… you’re nowhere.

Meditate on koans – “The best way out is always through.” Robert Frost

Use cues to cultivate mindfulness – Let your mind be full of nothing.

Keep a food diary – You manage what you measure.


Don’t get organized – “Order is heaven’s first law.” Alexander Pope

Follow the one-minute rule – Outer order contributes to inner calm.

Find the exact place for things – If you can’t find something -> clean up!

Clear a surface – Someplace, keep an empty shelf.


Imitate a spiritual master – “For love of God and my sisters so charitable toward me, I take care to appear happy and especially to be so.” St. Thérése de Lisieux

Cultivate gratitude – “Contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and at least cease to admire worthless things.” Boethius

Do good, feel good – “These testimonies of a good conscience are pleasant; and such a natural pleasure is very beneficial to us; it is the only payment that can never fail.”—Montaigne

Put your values into action in your everyday life – “A good conscience is a continued Christmas.” Benjamin Franklin


Find some fun – Just because something is fun for somebody else, doesn’t mean it is fun for you.

Make time for fun – You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.

Abandon a “fun” project – One of the ways to complete a project is to abandon it.

Start a collection – Work hard at having fun.


Quit nagging – You can only change yourself, but when you change a relationship changes.

Be a treasure house of happy memories – The days are long, but the years are short.

Acknowledge the reality of other people’s feelings – Make people happier by acknowledging that they’re not feeling happy.


Make three new friends – You manage what you measure.

Stop gossiping – “An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth.” Mark Twain

Show up – We’re happier when our lives reflect our values.

Start/join a group – “ Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.” Epicurus


Sing in the morning – “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together. By regulating the action, which is more under the direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate feeling, which is not.” William James

Jump – “Exuberance is beauty.” William Blake

Reframe – “The mind has its own place, and of itself, can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven.”  John Milton

Make the positive argument – “Who is strong? He that can conquer his bad habits.” Benjamin Franklin

Boot camp

Do something every day – “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.” Anthony Trollope

Do a 24-hour boot camp –  “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” G. K. Chesterton

Try a week of extreme nice – “There is no love, there is only proof of love.” Pierre Reverdy

Take time to revel in your accomplishments – “Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” Guillaume Apollianaire

First things first – “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” Thoreau



Gretchen Rubin’s – The 2011 Happiness Challenge:


Set concrete goals – “How few there are who have courage enough to own their fault, and resolution enough to mend them.” Benjamin Franklin

Hold yourself accountable

Pick a one-word there for the year – “The best test of a man’s intelligence is his capacity for making a summary.” Lytton Strachey

Ask: “Am I a ‘yes’ resolver or a ‘no’ resolver?” – “The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, but in what direction we are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.


Ask yourself ‘What did you do for fun when you were 10 years old?’ – “Splicing sounds together can’t be a real occupation, maybe I should be a geologist or teach art history.” Walter Murch

Imitate a spiritual master – “I take care to appear happy,, and especially to be so.” St. Therese de Lisieux

Ask yourself: Whom do I envy? What do I lie about? – “I have finally realized that my highest ambition is to be what I already am.” Thomas Merton

Do what you DO – Just because something is fun for you, it does not mean it’s fun for everybody else.

Your Body

Get enough sleep

Get some exercise – “Exuberance is beauty.” William Blake

Manage pain – “To kindness, to wisdom we make promises. Pain, we obey.” Proust

Cultivate good smells


Keep a one-sentence journal

Keep a milestone journal

Keep a file box

Make the most of your photographs


Set aside a specific time for something that’s important to you

Re-evaluate your mantras

Suffer for 15 minutes

Observe the One-Minute rule


Cultivate a shrine

Go shelf-by-shelf

Read the manual

Spend out – “It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” Sarah Bernhardt


Do something every day

Force yourself to wander

Take time for projects – “An aim is the only fortune worth the finding; and it is not to be found in foreign lands but in the heart itself.” Robert Louis Stevenson

Make something by hand


Be a tourist in your own city

Call up past memories


Boost your energy level

Ask yourself: are you an “abstainer” or a “moderator”? – “Abstinence is as easy to me, as temperance would be difficult.” Samuel L. Johnson

Use convenience to your own advantage

Beware the “Licensing Effect”

Five senses

Tap into your senses – go outside

Listen to your favorite upbeat song (sing along)

Cultivate good smells – “Smells are surer than sights or sounds to make your heartstrings crack.” Nabokov

Hug more, kiss more, touch more


Follow the threshold ritual

Make the positive argument

Find gratitude cues in everyday life

Remember the dog that doesn’t bark

What is the key to happiness?

Strong relationships.






Estrella Azul’s – Happiness is in the small things

I strongly believe that the small things that generally might go unnoticed in our lives are the ones that genuinely keep us happy.

So here are the things that don’t just give me temporary bliss, but which serve as a reminder of how much beauty there is in my life.

For me, happiness is:

(I’ll be adding more things to the list over time.)

  • A flower, note, etc. ‘Just because’.
  • Hearing/saying “I love you!” each and every day and seeing the faces of the people who say it.
  • Being able to laugh even at hard times.
  • Kindness.
  • When I can make someone else smile and forget about their own problems even for just a bit.
  • Writing and reading (even better when I have a whole day to do these uninterrupted).
  • Being considered and acknowledged as a writer by other writers.
  • Getting my creative writing published.
  • Cuddling up on the sofa reading, watching movies, series, etc.
  • My pets: my sweet little fur ball of a bunny and all 3 cats who let me share the bed with them sometimes.
  • Being surprised with the exact food I was craving for but didn’t mention it cause I didn’t want to cook myself (sweets, pizza, cup of cocoa with a tad of milk, etc.)
  • A bright sunny morning.
  • Lying quiet and cozy in bed under warm blankets when outside is pouring or cold.
  • Good hair days.
  • Things I find fun/funny.
  • The smell of snow, walking on fresh, white, crunchy snow and snowfall (during Winter).
  • Every night massages.
  • Being home or taking a walk alone (sometimes).
  • An unexpected kiss.
  • A phone call to ask when I’ll be home.
  • Sleeping in.
  • Emails (tweets, texts, etc.) from friends who are far away.
  • Christmas lights.
  • Traveling.
  • Lovely decorations in my tidy room/house, flowers, plants, crafts, etc. and the color blue.
  • Cleaning, cooking, baking, etc. most household chores.
  • Occasional warm, flavored, relaxing bubble bath.
  • Saying/hearing “Thank you!”
  • Finding/buying new dinnerware (different plates, bowls, cups, etc.) (Yes, I know I’m weird.)
  • Time spent with loved ones.
  • Being asked for my opinion and people actually following through with them.
  • Seeing cute babies or couples holding hands.
  • Taking great photographs.
  • Rainbows and warm weather.
  • Getting anything I started done and right.
  • Making everyone I love happy while not forgetting about my own happiness.
  • Listening to music and singing (along)
  • Compliments when I least expect them
  • Snow globes
  • Cool wallpapers (can give me such a mood uplift when I’m feeling blue)
  • Happy memories from the past
  • The perfect writing-time (including nice weather, a cool breeze, etc.)
  • A view (of the Lake, from the rooftop, from the Fellegvár hill, or even just the memory of it – of the ocean, etc.)
  • Sunsets
  • Politeness and respect
  • Blogging
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